On September 9, the new feature film Contagion from Warner Bros. Pictures, Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi will be released in theaters nationwide. The picture sports an all-star cast and revolves around a rapidly spreading virus that threatens to infect millions of people.
Of course it’s a fictional movie, but that’s not to say it’s completely fake. The film’s depiction of how public health workers track the deadly outbreak shows them using a technology similar to HealthMap, a real-life online surveillance system designed to track emerging infectious disease threats. Co-founded by John Brownstein, PhD and Clark Freifeld of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Informatics Program, HealthMap has over a million users a year including regular users from the World Health Organization, the CDC and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Come on, folks, roll up your sleeves—and your kids’ sleeves, too. Summer’s officially over and it’s time for the flu shot.
Every year, I’m caught off guard by how many people don’t want to get a flu shot. There are lots of people who are happy to get them—anxious, even—but I’m always surprised by how much I end up being a flu shot salesman.
Last fall, a group of leading thinkers and entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors gathered to discuss an idea that originated with Harvard’s Isaac Kohane and Ken Mandl — the development of an “iPhone-like platform” for health information technology (HIT), a more open and flexible approach than the architecture currently being contemplated, and one that holds greater promise for creating a consumer-oriented “Health Internet.” Obama Administration officials pledged at the meeting to have a pilot effort launched that could have real-time patient data accessible online this year.
The Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) has been instrumental in connecting the public with health care issues through technology. CHIP created HealthMap, a website, blog and an iPhone app that tracks disease outbreaks in real-time. We featured their weekly H1N1 tracking updates over the last several months here on Thrive.
In case you missed it, Margaret Chan, MD, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), yesterday cautioned the world that the H1N1 pandemic is not over, even though you’re not hearing as much about it in the media or around the watercooler. “It is too premature and too early for us to say we have come to an end of the pandemic influenza worldwide,” Dr. Chan said at a press conference.
With much less attention being paid to H1N1 these days, Thrive asked Claire McCarthy, MD, a pediatrician and the medical director of Children’s Martha Eliot Health Center, if she thought families could stop worrying about the virus—and whether people should still get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Here’s what she had to say: